New Delhi: Ghazala Ahmad, a 24-year-old final year student of Mass Communication at Aligarh Muslim University was told that she could not be hired as an anchor for Hindi Media News Channel in Delhi all because she wore a hijab- a headscarf worn by Muslim women in order to cover their heads. Clearing the initial selection process over telephonic interviews conducted by the company, she was told to remove her hijab or else she would not get a job.
Ahmad told Maktoob Media, that she had applied for the position of a news anchor in a Hindi news portal (name withheld on request of the student).
On 30 August, she received a phone call from the representative congratulating her for her selection. After she was done with all formalities such as the salary and the joining date, she informed the interviewer that she wore a hijab and inquired if that would be a problem.
“The line went silent for a couple of minutes”, Ahmad said, “and I kept asking if someone was there or not.” After about three minutes, the person on the other side of the call said, “You are not understanding, big media channels do not hire hijabis. We are only a small portal”.
“He told me that this is India and no broadcaster has ever cast a hijab-wearing person. He told me to understand his situation because if he recruits anyone with hijab, his channel would be shut down. He asked me to try writing for a newspaper instead,” Ahmad further added.
Ahmad, however, has already worked with different media houses as well as interned with few organisations. This very incident has deeply affected her and left her in a state of otherness.
“As a journalist, I believe in the ethics of respect and inclusiveness also my religious identity would have no bearing on my journalist integrity,” said Ahmad.
She further said that in the field of journalism women and Muslims have to face many obstacles, unlike others. Even the Constitution of India guarantees us the right to preach and practise our own religion and also prohibits any kind of discrimination on the basis of caste, creed, race, religion at any public sphere or workplace.
“This incident disappointed me and this rejection came only because of my religious covering that too from a person belonging to my own Muslim community is disheartening but I will continue towards being a journalist,” stated Ghazala Ahmad. (Kashmiriyat)